|Prison in the basement of the Doge's palace in Venice.|
I was thinking about Kurt and getting whacked in the head with a red ball as I wandered through the Doge's Palace in Venice last week. Different spelling, same-ish pronunciation. The Doge was the leader of the Republic of Venice back in the day (i.e. 700 - 1700). Once elected, he held the office for life. The Doge ruled along with councils and tribunals of wealthy Venetian men and could be either ceremonial or omnipotent, depending on the character and ambition of the individual.
The Doge's Palace is located right off of Piazza San Marco, next to the Basilica, and is one of Venice's central tourist attractions. After wandering through the exquisite chambers of the Doge and his buddies, the tour brings you into the basement of the building which served as the city's prison. The cells are dark and cold with iron bars on the windows and thick wooden doors with bulky locks.
|Door to Prison Cell in Doge's Palace|
Will our own contemporary correctional institutions someday be sites like these? The orange suits, ironed and pinned carefully against a cork board, protected by a plastic display box. Will tourists stand silently on the tiers of Niantic's Zero South and take pictures of the dingy cells while reading the curator's summary of the 20th Century Drug Wars? What will they think of the society that created these spaces? Incarcerating people who had broken the law and others who were framed by authorities or were too poor and uneducated to defend themselves, victims of the ambition of politicians seeking to secure power and influence by appearing tough on crime.
Strange to think these places may be just one more stop on the itinerary before folks hustle onward for a lobster roll on the boardwalk, an afternoon at Mystic Aquarium and, perhaps, a quick visit to the Dodgeball Museum.